Twelve: Not Quite Twenty Questions

A/N: What in the hell? Another fluff chapter? I don't know why I'm still writing this. Oh yeah. 6.7K hits baby! does the funky chicken

Once Naruto finished inhaling his ramen (burp!) Yukio put the bowl(s) away and went to the kitchenette in the room to wash up the eating implements. Naruto stared at her, taking in his "anechan's" features. She was positively beautiful.

Her hair glimmered in the early morning sunlight, the rosy glow of her skin contrasting with the color of her kimono, which was a pleasantly emerald green. Naruto looked away, realizing that he had been staring at an incredibly inappropriate amount of time.

She turned and smiled at him. "Why is my otouto staring at me like that?" she asked. Naruto blushed. Wait a minute. Little brother am I? "Cause I have such a beautiful anechan," he remarked rather cheekily.

Then it was Yukio's turn to blush.


"Yes, Naruto-kun?"

"What were you doing back in the forest near Hidden Cloud?"

Yukio put away the bowls and the chopsticks, zipping them up in the carrier pack Ichiraku-teicho gave her. She sat down on a chair near Naruto's bed, her eyes looking wistful and reminiscent. "I guess we never did get around talking about that, did we?" she remarked.

"Well, truth be told, I'm on a sabbatical." Naruto's face crunched up in concentration. It's not that words like 'sabbatical" were beyond him…oh wait, they are. Twelve-year-old vocabulary made even worse by the blond genin's inability to find enough reason to make his better by reading more than the ingredients list on a package of instant ramen. The woman spared him the embarrassment by continuing on with her story.

"All my life I've never really known what was beyond the walls of my own hometown," she explained. "I dreamed of seeing the world, visiting places I've only seen in the pages of books. So one day I took a boat all the way to Lightning Country and spent a lot of time in the port cities close to Kumogakure."

"It was an adventure for me, you see," Yukio said, brushing back a lock of Naruto's hair with a finger. "The port towns were exciting, but I fear that I overspent my money on things I probably shouldn't have bought in the first place."

"I knew the rudiments of hunting and fishing well enough, so I decided to spend the night in the forest. I didn't know what I was thinking. There I was, sleeping on the ground when back home I could be sleeping in a bed with my needs and wants only a few words away. But I decided for myself that I wanted to be a person worthy of my dreams"

"A person worthy of your dreams?" Yukio nodded.

"Why yes, Naruto-kun," she said. "Everyone has dreams. It's just a matter of time and effort to accomplish any one of them. But to be truly worthy of ones dreams a person has to look deep inside her heart," she emphasized the point by poking a finger into Naruto's chest, making the blonde genin wince when she hit a rib "and see the reasons why you're chasing after that dream in the first place. If your intentions are pure, God himself will make a way for your dreams to come true."

"Everything a person does he or she does for a reason. I want to find that reason for myself and finally answer the question if I'm even worthy of going on with my dreams." Naruto crossed his arms. He never thought of it that way. Closing his eyes, he looked inside himself and thought long and hard about his own dreams as Yukio excused herself to go to the bathroom.

Why did he want to become Hokage? He spent his life hated by people, beaten up at least three times a month and totally ignored by his teammates. What would it be like to be acknowledged for once?

He remembered Iruka-sensei. He remembered Tsunade. He remembers Hinata. Jiraiya even thought him capable enough to be taught his signature jutsu.

And it wasn't even anything perverted at that.

In each of these three people he had seen and felt enough recognition to last him several lifetimes. What more could he want? Could he really be just lashing out at the people ignoring it? Who was he to want the most honored position of the village with reasons that are far from selfless?

The Hokage exists to protect his village. The Sandaime taught him that when he gave his life to trap Orochimaru in a stalemate that cost the snake sennin his arms, thereby immobilizing him from using his formidable arsenal of jutsus. The Yondaime taught him that the price of being Hokage meant that one must be able to make difficult decisions that are for the good of the majority. Tsunade taught him to fight for what he believed in, for the people he believed in most of all and to conquer your fears.

Kakashi taught him to value his special people.

"Penny for your thoughts Naruto-kun"

A pair of blue eyes snapped open as Yukio smiled at his look of intense concentration. "If you keep your face stuck like that it'll freeze that way," she joked. He stuck her tongue out at her, but laughed all the same.

"You see Naruto-kun? God makes a way for all things to be possible, if your heart is in your task."

The blonde nodded excitedly. He thought about it and decided he was still going to go after his dream of becoming the Hokage. But now it wasn't for acknowledgment. He got that already. It was for far different reasons.

The Uzumaki Naruto who first declared his dreams, he was a person so desperately seeking the acknowledgement of others that he took insane risks and won incredible victories. He sought the hard way to the goal, fighting and kicking his way into his place in history. The Uzumaki Naruto today saw that even that won't be enough reason to be Hokage. Now he makes a new pact. He still would pursue the dream of becoming Hokage. Only now, he does it for reasons no one else would have believed possible coming from him.

Uzumaki Naruto will become the Hokage to serve as a shield to protect his village. Uzumaki Naruto will become the Hokage to touch the lives of people so no one would ever have to suffer as he did. Uzumaki Naruto will become the Hokage to acknowledge the people who are shouting to be seen by the world as more than Dead Last.

Then, looking at Yukio's face, Naruto decided to add one other reason on impulse. Uzumaki Naruto will become the Hokage to protect the smile of his special person. Asakura Yukio. His anechan. His one true friend outside of the shinobi circle. Why?

Because Uzumaki Naruto decided that for once, he found someone who he would more than happily give up his dreams for. He loved her, and that was all that mattered in the end.

A/N: Dear heavens! This is really serious stuff! I'm writing a love story and I'm sounding more and more like a chick flick! That's it. I'm going to the video store to rent something dark, action packed and violent.

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